With the passing of Dr. Maya Angelou, I remembered a piece I originally wrote for S & A back almost three years ago, about what is one of the most obscure and rarely seen films from the 1970’s.
I’m referring to is the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia, a low budget film, which was based on an original screenplay by Angelou, who is mistakenly often credited as also being the director of the film as well.
In fact, it was directed by Swedish director Stig Bjorkman, and was presented at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1973.
Nevertheless, unless someone can prove it otherwise, it is the first feature film to be written by a black female screenwriter. So, among her many accomplishments, it should be no surprise that Dr. Angelou was the first to break that barrier as well.
The film did get an American release through Cinerama Releasing, which was a major studio at the time, however, it did quickly fade from sight.
The film deals with a American singer (played by Diana Sands in one of her last roles, before her untimely death in 1973 at the age of 39) who’s in Stockholm to perform at a concert, where she falls in love with a white Vietnam war deserter played by Dirk Benedict (who of course would later go on co-star in TV’s The A Team with Mr T).
My memories are fuzzy about the film, since I haven’t seen it in centuries, but I do recall that it has a rather strange quality to it, with a shocking twist ending that frankly didn’t make much sense to me, though I can, now years later, understand what Angelou was getting at. But I would sure love to take a look at it again.
Of course Angelou appeared in some 15 or so films and TV roles as an actress, starting out as an uncredited dancer in Otto Preminger’s 1959 film version of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, with Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge. She also had an extensive list of credits behind the camera, not only writing the screenplay for Georgia Georgia, but also co-writing the screenplay for the 1979 CBS TV movie adaptation of her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, plus the original screenplay for the 1982 NBC TV movie Sister Sister with Diahann Carroll and Rosalind Cash, among works.
And she did make her one and only film as director, Down in in the Delta, a family drama based on an original screenplay by Myron Goble, with Alfre Woodard, that was released in 1998.
But back to Georgia Georgia; It is unknown if we will ever get a chance to see it again. There were plans to release the film on DVD through the specially DVD label Scorpion Releasing, and the plans were to have commentaries from the director and star Benedict, with, hopefully, Angelou as well. Although that was realistically unlikely, since she reportedly wasn’t happy with the finished film, feeling it was a distortion of what she originally intended.
However Scorpion Releasing has not yet released the DVD for unexplained reasons (possible rights problems?), and, so far, no plans have been announced on whether they will. But if it happens, we will be sure to let you know.
In the meantime, you can take a look at some clips from the film below.